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See What I’m Saying?

Whether you are aware of it or not, we use #non-verbal cues when #communicating. This can include #gestures, #body movement, and #facial expressions. These generally help to increase understanding and streamline exchanges between #speakers, but there are situations in which these can have the opposite effect.

This #miscommunication through non-verbal cues mainly occurs among speakers from different #cultural #backgrounds. For example, in one culture, #eye contact is a sign of respect and interest, while in another it is a sign of disrespect. Hand gestures can likewise have opposite meanings across cultures (like the American “V for Victory” or “thumbs up”).

Learning the cultural meanings behind these non-verbal cues is just as important as learning the language. You certainly wouldn’t want to accidentally offend your waitress while ordering or potential boss during an interview. Even if you are not planning to travel, perhaps you learned a language to better connect with your significant other’s family. How terrible would it be to meet them only to offend them with a #gesture that you intended as a friendly greeting? This also applies for #sub-cultures! More than once a #Deaf person has fallen victim to gang violence due to the gang misinterpreting the signs as gang signs.

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